Josh Sway
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/ Testing Appearance On OkCupid

The answer isn't mybestface, but another okcupid feature.


While many of you know that my online dating system is very profile driven, looks still have an impact on your online dating success. It’s impact is usually two fold. One, if you are extremely good looking, then your looks can trump a lot of your other short comings including profile quality. However, that isn’t the norm. Usually, a combination of profile and looks determine your level of success online.

The profile picture problem

The problem is, it isn’t always so easy to know where you stand looks wise. And furthermore, it is often even more difficult to know whether or not a particular picture of you is good or not. Ten years ago, this problem was easily solved with the ‘hot or not’ website. Unfortunately, now that website has turned into some Tinder wannabe app and serves very little purpose. Soon, we will have a tool that will allow you to get opinions on your pictures on Josh Sway, but until then, you have to resort to other methods. One dating site provides several of these tools: okCupid.

Do not use MyBestFace

Those of you who are familiar with okCupid may think I am referring to the very popular ‘MyBestFace’ feature. I am not. As I have written about in the past, MyBestFace is a quite poor tool at evaluating what profile picture you should use for a multitude of reasons. But, this does not mean okCupid is a bad tool. There are simply much better ways to evaluate your pictures than using MyBestFace.

Method 1: Quickmatch

The easiest cheapest method is to simply change your main picture and quickmatch a bunch of women (rate them all 4 or 5) and see how many matches you get, then switch picture, and repeat. The benefits of this technique is that it is super easy to do. The downside is that it is a little bit tedious to keep clicking through a bunch of pictures and your data set will likely not be very large. This technique works best if there is an ‘obvious’ winner: for example, in one picture you look good and in another you look straight up ugly. When the pictures are closer in appearance, this method doesn’t do the best job.

Method 2: Just try them

Another easy method to use whose main detriment is that it takes time is to simply give each picture a whirl for a few days as your front page image. Be sure you are active on the site (at the very least logged in a lot) while doing this test. It isn’t a perfect test, but it is by far the most realistic simulation of picture quality: it captures the value of your picture in the real life browsing situation.

Method 3: Use The Boost Feature

Both methods I have described so far do work; however, they are not the main method I use. I almost exclusively use the Boost feature to test different pictures. The boost feature works as follows: for 15 minutes, okCupid’s search algorithm ensures that your picture appears much more than it normally would. On average in a big city, you can get your profile appear in 1000 to 3000 searches in that 15 minute window. You can then evaluate how many views and likes and messages you get in that 15 minute window. This is a fast, simple, and effective technique. The main drawback of the boost picture is that it costs $2 a boost. It may also be a bit of an ego hit to some because the view/like count you get from each boost will probably be relatively low (in relation to the number of ‘times your profile was seen’). It’s important to understand that times your profile was seen is just the number of times it appeared in a search mixed in with many other profiles (and I am not sure, but maybe not even on the front page of the search), so it makes sense that even 2000 ‘times your profile was seen’ would not generate something like 200 visits.

Be careful with ‘too good’ pictures

Now that you have some ideas on evaluating your pictures, go on and start optimizing your profile. A word of caution though, do not use pictures which look way better than you actually do in person. You want to get good dates from online dating, not meetings that go nowhere when the girl thinks of you as a liar/catfish the second she sees you!





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